Herniated Disc Specialist

Kenneth Light, MD

Orthopedic Spine Surgeon located in San Leandro, CA

When patients from in and around San Francisco, California, suffer from a herniated disc, Dr. Kenneth Light offers state-of-the art surgical treatment to repair the spine and provide relief from the pain.

Herniated Disc Q & A

What Is a Herniated Disc?

This occurs when a piece of the intervertebral cartilage breaks off and pinches one of the spinal nerves or dural sac. It commonly produces radiating pain, numbness and or weakness in an arm or leg depending on the anatomic location of the disc. If your pain is not very bad, and you do not have severe weakness or numbness in your or leg, conservative treatment for three months usually is successful. If the pain is severe, and you cannot stand or walk, or you have weakness and numbness in your leg, despite a period of rest, medication and modified exercise, surgery is sometimes necessary.

Simple discectomy is the most useful type of operation for alleviating symptoms of pain, weakness or numbness in your leg. Every doctor has his favorite way of accomplishing this. Some doctors choose to use a microscope, and some do not. The results depend not on the size of the incision, but by the skillful removal of the entire disc fragment and any other loose disc fragments, without damage to spinal nerves and the rest of the spine. It should give a good result most of the time. Remember, however, the doctor cannot make new nerves. If the nerve has been too badly damaged some residual nerve symptoms will be present. The operation also does not prevent or cure back pain, which results from damage to the intervertebral disc. If Back pain is your predominant symptom, some form of spinal fusion or disc replacement may be considered.

Each disc in the spine is created to provide support and cushioning to the bones of the spine. These discs can deteriorate because of injury or age. As a result, the inner section can rupture or protrude from the outer layer. This is known as a herniation of the disc. The lower back, or lumbar spine, is the frequent location of most herniated discs. This area is constantly absorbing the impact of bearing the weight of the upper body and can be affected by impacts to the lower extremities as well. This constant strain in combination with aging and/or injury-related deterioration makes this part of the spine more prone to a herniated disc. Herniated discs are often the cause of sciatica.

What Causes a Herniated Disc?

Herniated discs are frequently caused by general wear and tear that causes gradual degeneration of the disc. As this happens, the disc loses fluid, making it less flexible and prone to damage. Herniations are also caused by using poor techniques while lifting heavy objects, which results in injury to the spine. Other factors that can affect a person’s risk of developing this condition include being overweight or having an inherited genetic disorder. In some cases, the exact cause of the herniation is impossible to diagnose.

What Surgical Procedures Resolve Herniated Discs?

If surgery is the best option to address a herniated disc, Dr. Light will discuss all of the options and explain why he thinks a particular procedure will be most effective. Depending on the cause, location, and severity of the herniation, Dr. Light may suggest laminectomy, discectomy, disc replacement, or spinal fusion. Each of these procedures addresses herniation in a different manner. Dr. Light will answer any questions his patients have about the spinal surgeries that can address a herniated disc. Residents of San Francisco who are experiencing back pain due to a herniated disc should make an appointment for a consultation to determine if a surgery is the best option to resolve their condition.

Remember surgery does carry certain risks. It is done for severe conditions, which interfere with normal function. It does not make a new body part and should be approached cautiously with full understanding of all treatment alternatives. 

Accepted Insurance Providers

We accept assignment on all Medicare patients, participating provider organizations (PPO), and Workers' Compensation. However, some insurance companies do cover the doctors' services as an out of network provider.

As a courtesy, we will bill your insurance company for you if you have provided us with the insurance name, policy numbers, address, place of employment and any other pertinent information. You are responsible for all deductibles, co-pays, and charges not covered by your insurance. Failure to submit payment for your portion of your bill may result in referring your account to a collection agency. All co-payments will be collected at the time of service.

Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield
Blue Cross Blue Shield of California PPO
Molina Healthcare
Oscar Health Insurance Co.
United Health Care
United Healthcare PPO